On the way to Daily Mass today, I was listening to the version of "Miracles" on the Pentatonix Christmas album. The line of the chorus that always tugs at my heart is, "there can be miracles if you believe, though hope is frail it's hard to kill." During the infamous year of 2020, we have seen many instances of hope showing its fragility. However, hope still thrives and lives on.
One of the ways that I have seen hope is in my neighbors who have started a local grass-roots initiative to provide food and hope to our community. It started out as a large plastic box in their front yard where people could donate non-perishable food for the community. This donation initiative garnered the name, "Be the Good Project" that has grown into a collection of food donations, thousands of sandwiches for Martha's Table, thousands of pounds of food for our local community and has now been established as a non-profit with a new website. Be the Good Project is an example of the miracle of hope in an uncertain world. You can learn more about them by visiting www.bethegoodproject.org
Another miracle that we cannot forget today is the miracle of Saint Maximillian Kolbe. I remember this saint today while I reflect on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Raymund Kolbe was born in 1894 in the Kingdom of Poland during the Russian Empire. In 1910, Fr. Kolbe was given the name Fr. Maximillian Kolbe. During the Nazi invasion in Poland, Fr. Kolbe hid over 2,000 Jews from Nazi capture. Fr. Kolbe was captured by the Nazi's and sent to Auschwitz where he was tortured for his religious views. During the time of his incarceration, Fr. Kolbe was part of a group of men who could choose death by starvation. Fr. Kolbe was chosen and volunteered the place of a man who was a husband and a father. Fr. Kolbe performed the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life for another. Fr. Kolbe later died by lethal injection. Among other patronages, he is the patron saint of journalists and the pro-life movement. It may be strange to reflect on Pearl Harbor, St. Maximillian Kolbe and death under Nazi regime during the time of Advent, but what these events show is that hope can, and will, always flourish, no matter the chaos of the world. People will always choose to do good.
In today's Gospel, we read Luke 5:17-26. This Gospel passage tells of a time when Jesus was teaching and healing large crowds of people. There was a group of friends who lowered a paralyzed man on a stretcher through the roof of where Jesus was, hoping that the ill man would be healed. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were accusing Him, in their hearts, of blaspheming. As always, Jesus knows our hearts. Jesus says to the crowd, "What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier to say, 'your sins are forgiven' or 'rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins' - he said to the man who was paralyzed, 'I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher and go home."
During his homily this morning, my pastor reminded us about the virtue of hope that we see in the friends who lowered the paralyzed man down through the roof on a stretcher, removing the obstacles of the roof shingles and the large crowds. There are always obstacles in life that can sometimes make it hard to confess our sins in the Sacrament Reconciliation, but we must move past the obstacles and take part in the miracle of Jesus' forgiveness. We can always find our hope in the Lord, in His mercy and His forgiveness. I can't think of a better way to prepare our hearts during Advent than by partaking in confession and reconciliation. As we clean and prepare our homes, let us not forget to give Jesus the perfect gift of a clean and contrite heart.
We can always find miracles and signs hope if we look for them- be it in our neighbors, in the saints, or in Jesus' miracles that are still relevant today. Miracles can be found and hope truly is hard to kill. As history has shown us time and time again, hope will always persevere.
"We put our hope in the Lord. He is our hope and our shield. In Him, our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone."
-Psalm 33:20-22 (NASB)